The War in Israel Part 1 - The Power of "Baruch"

What Else Can We All Do?

In this time of tzarah, we are all asking, “What else can we do [to help]?” Those involved in the war directly are certainly doing their part. We are most grateful to them for putting their lives on the line. Others around the world are involved in many ways – physically, monetarily, emotionally – to provide whatever assistance we can.

While we understand that it is our responsibility to assist in any way that we can, we also understand that all results come only from Hashem, and we cannot rely upon anyone or anything other than our Father in Heaven to miraculously help us with a quick and clear, decisive victory with no more korbanos. To that end, we must continue to work on improving our heartfelt tefilos, say more T’hilim, have more public gatherings to say T’hilim, give and receive support, seek to perform more chesed, and learn more Torah more diligently.

We would like to offer one additional powerful tool that could enable all of us to assist in a most profound and impactful way. What we will suggest does not require any money, any new actions, or even any significant time investment. It is applicable to all of us: men, women, and children from a certain age and up. Towards the end of this segment, we will provide very specific examples that can be implemented by anyone.

When David HaMelech faced a plague where 100 people were dying every day, he instituted 100 brachos daily and the plague stopped. Needless to say, we are speaking about mindful and heartfelt brachos. There are numerous sources, including Tana’im, the ZoharRishonim, early Acharonim, and others, who attribute success in spiritual and material matters to the brachos we make. This is not the place to cite the sources, because we want to get to the very practical and specific suggestion of how we can help in a dramatic way. By way of an example of the sources, we are in desperate need now of immediate rachamim (compassion) and shalom (peace). The Rashba states that our brachos increase rachamim, and the Maharsha states that our brachos increase shalom between us and our Father in Heaven – two impeccable sources and perhaps the two most important requests we are beseeching Hashem for right now.

We will now present a concise overview of the role Hashem has given to us, what we can achieve (in a very basic explanation), and what specifically we should be thinking when we make specific brachos. Some examples will be provided.

brachah is both “tzorech gavoah” (heavenly “need”) and “tzorech hedyot” (need for us). Hashem, in His kindness, wants to bestow kindness and blessing upon us. To that end, every second and word of Torah learning, every chesed, creates a flow of blessing above which Hashem wants to pour down upon us. But we need to bring it down. That is the system Hashem created. In that sense, then, it is up to us, through our brachos and tefilos, to bring that flow of blessing and kindness down. This is tzorech gavoah, because we are “enabling” Hashem to fulfill His “desire” to bestow His blessing and kindness. It is also tzorech hedyot, because we will then be responsible for blessing and kindness to pour down onto our brothers and sisters. Our brothers and sisters everywhere, but especially in Eretz Yisrael, so desperately need Hashem’s blessing, kindness, compassion, and peace.  We have been given that opportunity and responsibility.

What should we specifically be thinking about before and during a brachah?

There are generally two schools of thought. We will offer a suggestion that will combine both approaches in a way that should flow seamlessly. Our focus in this segment will be on the word “baruch,” which is the key to the two different approaches. Needless to say, every one of the three or six standard words of a brachah is crucially important. We have discussed them in previous segments.

The first approach understands the word “baruch” to mean “source of brachah.” The word “baruch” stems from the word “b’reichah,” a wellspring. In this approach, we acknowledge and express our gratitude to Hashem. We state, and work on integrating into our minds and hearts, that Hashem is THE source of ALL blessings, and we thank Him for the countless blessings we have received and the one specific blessing on which we are making this particular brachah (examples to follow).

The second approach understands “baruch” to mean “תוספת ורבוי–tosefes v’ribui” (abundance and multiplicity). This approach views a brachah as a request to receive additional blessings. We ask that Hashem increase blessing in the upper worlds and down here (especially to His nation and children).

To combine these approaches, we suggest:

“May it be Your will to increase the flow of blessing (to the upper worlds and to this world, especially to Your nation and children), because You, Hashem, are the source of all brachah.”

The end of each of the 19 Brachos in Shemoneh Esrei are the most important part of the Tefilah. Let us look at some examples of what we have written above. 

  1. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', גּוֹאֵל יִשְׂרָאֵל

Baruch Atah Hashem, Go’eil Yisrael.

  1. MENTALLY: May it be Your will to increase the flow of blessing of redemption (from our current painful situation…), because You, Hashem, are the source of blessing, the Redeemer of Yisrael. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', רוֹפֵא חוֹלֵי עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל

Baruch Atah Hashem, Rofei cholei amo Yisrael.

  1. MENTALLY: May it be Your will to increase the flow of blessing of healing and salvation, because You, Hashem, are the source of blessing, the Healer and Savior of His nation Yisrael. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', שׁוֹבֵר אוֹיְבִים וּמַכְנִיעַ זֵדִים

Baruch Atah Hashem, Shoveir oyvim u’machnia zeidim.

MENTALLY: May it be Your will to increase the flow of blessing of breaking our enemies and humbling the wicked, because You, Hashem, are the source of blessing, the Breaker of enemies and Humbler of wicked.

  1.  בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', הַמְּבָרֵךְ אֶת עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּשָּׁלוֹם

Baruch Atah Hashem, Ha’m’vareich es amo Yisrael ba’shalom.

MENTALLY: May it be Your will to increase the flow of blessing of peace, because You, Hashem, are the source of blessing, the One Who blesses His nation with peace.

These four brachos (and many more in Shemoneh Esrei) are so desperately needed right now. It is up to each and every one of us to “ramp up” the quality of our brachos. Even one a day could bring an abundance and a flow of blessings of compassion, peace, and kindness.

Here are two points with which to conclude:

One, each person should discuss with his own rebbi/rav what approach to take to improve his berachos and if he agrees with this approach.

Two, every person is an individual, and just as we don’t look exactly alike, we also don’t think exactly alike. Therefore, each person should use what we have written and “make it his own.” Develop your own thoughts before and during a brachah that speaks to you.

We have a great opportunity and responsibility to dramatically help our brothers and sisters on the frontlines. May we merit to put forth as strong an effort as we can muster in our brachos and tefilos to support those who have put their lives on the line, and all in Eretz Yisrael who are now on the “frontlines.” May Hashem shower all of them with brachah as we increase and intensify our efforts in our brachos.